Choosing Pictures for the Adoption Profile Scrapbook

This post was originally published on on October 27, 2010. Republished here with permission.

Many, many words have been written about the adoption profile scrapbook. This is the item that you give to expectant parents to present your family. Hopefully, your agency, attorney, or other adoption professional gave you some basic guidelines. The two most important questions to ask are:

  • How many pages? If there’s not a set limit, then you should find out what the average number of pages is and shoot for that. You don’t want to be the only 2 page booklet in a sea of 20 page scrapbooks.
  • Is the “Dear Birthmother” letter a part of the profile, or is it separate? I’ll be covering the “Dear Birthmother” letter in another post. This letter introduces who you are. Sometimes, the letter is text only, presented before the profile. Sometimes, the letter is integrated into the profile. It’s important to find out what your agency expects.

Once you learn this information, you can figure out how many pictures you can include.

There are four ways to create a profile:

  1. Create the profile out of paper, the old fashioned way.
  2. Create the profile on the computer using some sort of software. (In 2010, I used Memory Mixer. These days, I actually use Pages, because I’m too cheap to buy Photoshop.)
  3. Create the profile on the computer using a photo web site, such as Snapfish or Shutterfly.
  4. Say to heck with it and hire someone else to create your profile.

If you choose method 1, you’re in for a lot of printing and cutting – not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. If you choose method 2, you place pictures and resize them at will. If you choose method 3, you have to go with whatever the site’s limits are. If you choose method 4, the person creating your profile should give you general guidelines and samples.

Decide what the major categories will be. Mine are:

  • The Two of Us (my husband and me, how we got together)
  • The Three of Us (adding Jack to become a family)
  • Family (the rest of our family)
  • Friends
  • Pets
  • School & Activities (Jack’s school, what he does, and what we do as a family)
  • Home (our house)
  • Places (our neighborhood and places we visit)

Sometimes, you may  not be sure what your major categories are until you choose the pictures. For example, I didn’t realize that “Activities” was a category until I saw how many pictures I wanted to include that showed soccer games, the County Fair, swimming, and so on.

If you don’t have kids, include some pictures of you and your partner (if applicable) with other people’s kids. In our first profile, I included several pictures of my husband with my cousin’s baby daughter. She was the first baby he had ever held. I included a picture of the both of us with my friend’s daughter. The point was, “See? We can do this. Really!”

You need not include pictures of every family member, especially if you’re not close. In my world, my mom’s family gets together every couple of years or so. In both profiles, I have included large group shots to illustrate the extended family this child will be a part of. If you’re adopting transracially, and you have family members of other races who are a part of your lives, include them. It’s good to show that your child won’t be alone.

When it comes to friends, I can tell you that I went overboard the first time around. I put in a picture of practically every friend we had. I wanted to show that we had friends, and that they had kids for a baby to play with. This time, I included the friends who are closest to us. I don’t mean in proximity; I included friends who live across the country, such as Jack’s godparents, because they are important to us. Again, you might want to show that you have a diverse group of friends. Do not, however, include pictures of people you never talk to just because they’re people of color. (I read a post on a forum in which a social worker advised the prospective parent to go out and take pictures with random Black people. Oy!)

Some people will tell you not to include exotic pets. I say, if they’re a big part of your life, include them! If they’re a little scary, use journaling to explain that really, Charlotte the tarantula is just the fuzziest little ball of spider you ever did see. If you have large dogs, you may want to mention how well-trained they are. If your pets have been around kids, show pictures of the pets with the kids. I have a shot of Jack with each of our four family pets, even the fish. For our first profile, I had to dig, but I found a shot of our Sassy cat sniffing my cousin’s daughter.

If you choose to have an “Activities” or “Hobbies” category, use pictures that clearly show you doing what you love. In our first profile, I included pictures of me singing, my husband barbecuing, and both of us in a couple of shows together. I had close up shots from photo calls; I would not have included large group shots, or substandard shots, just to have them in there. In this profile, I have a page devoted to Jack’s activities (soccer & ballet) and a page devoted to activities we do as a family (the County Fair, the beach, etc.)

When it comes to home, don’t write a real estate ad. Do show the front of your house, and, if you have one, the backyard too. I know I’d want to know what my child’s house might look like. If you have the room ready, then I say include a picture of it. Although some professionals frown upon it, the fact that we had so many toys ready for the baby really attracted Jack’s birthmother. If you do anything fun for the holidays, show your house all dolled up. I put in our Halloween spooky house shot, for example.

As for places, I included a few shots of the places we go – the reservoir, a particular park, the baseball stadium. It gives me an opportunity to talk more about the good that surrounds us and what we enjoy doing.

In conclusion, choose pictures that you like, that reflect who you are. Stay true to yourself. There’s no magic formula, there is only what works for you.

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